1. Platycercus i. icterotis
or female (Kuhl
Description: head, breast,
abdomen and under tail-coverts red; chin, cheeks and lores yellow;
nape and back feathers black with green edging; also partially
with red edging in some older birds; shoulder feathers black becoming
green towards tips; inner median wing-coverts black; edge of wing,
outer median wing-coverts and under wing-coverts violet-blue;
secondary-coverts green with violet-blue outer webs; secondaries
green with narrow greenish-blue edging to outer feathers; outer
webs at base of primaries and primary-coverts bright violet-blue;
lower back and upper tail-coverts green; upperside of middle tail-feathers
dark green; outer tail-feathers pale blue with dark blue base
and pale tips; tail underside pale bluish; bill light greyish-horn
colour; narrow periophthalmic ring grey to dark grey; iris dark
brown; feet greyish-brown.
Female with duller red; breast, upper abdomen, crown,
nape and lower cheeks green with broad dull red edging; back dull
black, each feather broadly edged with green; outer middle wing-coverts
green tinged violet-blue; secondary-coverts and outer secondaries
with less violet-blue to outer webs;outer webs at base of primaries
and primary-coverts dull violet-blue; lower back and upper tail-coverts
green; upperside of middle tail-feathers dull dark green; outer
tail-feathers pale blue with dark green base and pale tips;whitish
under wing-stripe present.
Immatures mainly green to olive-green and with orange-red
feathers on forehead, breast, abdomen and umder tail-coverts;
young males with more red, particularly breast feathers, which
are orange-red; yellow cheek patch mostly absent; light under
wing-stripe present adult plumage attained by 14 months.
Length: 26 cm (10 ins)
and adjacent areas in southwest Australia from Moore River to
Albany District; overlaps further east with Red-backed Western
2. Platycercus i. xanthogenys
Red-backed Western Rosella
Description: as icterotis,
but with paler cheek patch; nape, back, and shoulder feathers
black with broad brownish-grey and red edging; lower back and
upper tail-coverts olive-grey; middle tail-feathers dull dark
blue with little or no dark green tingeing.
Female as icterotis, but much paler; nape, back and
shoulder feathers dark grey with broad brownish-grey edging; lower
back and upper tail-coverts olive-grey.
Immatures as described for nominate form, but mainly
back and wing edging pale grey.
Length: 26 cm (10 ins)
Distribution: dry interior
of southwest Australia.
Note: sub-species xanthogenys
is not unreservedly recognised as there is wide overlapping area
with icterotis and birds from eastern edge of distribution area
differ significantly from nominate form.
Habitat: grass savannah
with trees, open woodland, orchards, cultivated areas and pasture
with trees as well as trees along water courses; prefers acacia
and casuarine shrubland, only occasionally found in dense eucalyptus
forest; observed in parks in Perth.
Status: common to numerous;
species benefits from forest clearance and grain cultivation.
Habits: usually found
in pairs and small family groups; occasionally several groups
gather at harvest time to forage for grain; quiet and difficult
to detect; mostly only seen when flying up off ground; prefers
to remain in tall eucalyptus trees during midday hours; can become
very confiding around farmhouses; pairs stay close together; sedentary;
flight buoyant and fluttering; similar to Psephotus species; rapid
wing-beats alternate with gliding; contact call rapidly repeated
soft kwink-kwink; reminiscent of Mulga Parrot (Psephotus varius).
Natural diet: mainly grass
seed and vegetable matter foraged on ground; in addition fruits,
berries, buds, nuts, flowers, nectar, insects and their larvae;
occasionally causes damage to orchards, particularly apples, and
Breeding behaviour: breeding
season from August to December with September main month; nests
almost exclusively in tree holes or hollow branches of dead and
living eucalyptus trees; clutch 3 to 7 eggs; usually 5 eggs; female
broods alone; male remains near nest during this time; incubation
19 days; female only leaves nest to feed for brief periods in
morning and evening; fledging period 5 weeks; occasionally young
birds not quite with complete adult plumage brood; egg measures
25.9 x 21.9 mm (1.02 x 0.86 ins).
Aviculture: fairly quiet
parakeet; not shy; hardy and robust; can be kept with other birds;
good fliers; provide regular supply of fruit tree and willow branches;
enjoys bathing; also scratching in sand on aviary floor; requires
Accommodation: in pairs
in outside flight at least 3 x 1 x 2 m (9 x 3 x 6 ft) with adjoining
shelter; provide roosting and nesting box 18 x 18 x 50 cm (7 x
7 x 20 ins) with entrance hole 5 cm (2 ins) in diameter.
Diet: mix of sunflower,
canary grass seed, various millets and weed seeds, oats, wheat
and some hemp; various fruit and vegetables, especially carrot
and apple; rose-hip; rowanberries; greenfood (chickweed, dandelion,
etc.); eggfood and soft insect food as well as some sprouted sunflower
Breeding in aviculture:
regularly achieved and not difficult; breeding begins mostly in
April or May; clutch usually 5 to 7 eggs; incubation time 19 to
20 days; fledging period 35 days; young independent after 14 days;
separate from parents at latest four weeks after fledging, as
two breedings per year possible; young can be attacked by male;
not sensitive to nestbox inspection.